Thursday, May 27, 2010

Euronating III

When I arrived in Venice at 2pm on Thursday I asked at the tourist office for available hotels. The cheapest they had was a three-star €120-a-night affair a minute's walk from St Mark's Square. The hotel was slap-bang in the epicentre of the action, but I couldn't believe cheaper hotels didn't exist, so I quickly set about finding one. I still stayed at the expensive place for one night but my last two nights were spent at a cheaper and more relaxing hotel towards the east of the city. At first I found Venice rather intimidating. Even with a decent map I got lost all the time. Things improved towards the end, but I would still walk for miles without really going anywhere. The boat - or vaporetto - was a life-saver for me, and I had almost perfect weather all the time I was there.

I tried to speak as much Italian as I could in my time there, but when they insisted on replying in English I began to think my lessons had been purely an academic exercise. In Venice, where it's almost expected that Italian won't be your first language, I virtually gave up with the whole Italian lark. And I certainly would never dream of using a public toilet in Venice:

Just like every country, Italy is full of graffiti, but as graffiti is an Italian word, maybe it originated there. Whatever, the graffiti I saw was very different to the stuff I was used to. The main difference was that I could actually understand it. A lot of the messages were a simple "I love you". I saw this one in Pisa:

In Italy I saw an impressive collection of clocks. I like clocks, or indeed anything with a nice analogue display. Some of them had only one hand - presumably they pre-dated the invention of the minute hand - and the single hand would waft around, pointing at nothing in particular. Others would have a face with hours numbered all the way to 24. But there were two clocks that for me stood out:

The one at the top is from the campanile in St Mark's Square in Venice; the bottom one is from the Piazza di Garibaldi (of course!) in Parma.

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